Young Leaders Summit: Highlights from the keynote speakers
Taking to the stage at the inaugural ICAS Young Leaders Summit, Not on the High Street's Holly Tucker MBE and One Young World pioneer Kate Robertson delivered stories of self-determination and stressed the importance of forward-looking vision to an audience of young CAs.
Surrounded by stunning views of London's city skyline, more than 150 leading CAs gathered at Landing 42 in the iconic 'Cheesegrater' Leadenhall Building, to hear from inspiring ICAS members and figures from the worlds of business and the third sector.
Holly Tucker MBE
Holly, recent Founder of new venture Holly & Co and Co-Founder of popular website Not on the High Street, was the first keynote speaker of the Summit, sharing her experiences as an entrepreneur and one of the first players in the online marketplace sector.
The main piece of advice she had for budding entrepreneurs was to not expect a glamorous experience, especially in the early stages of your business. In fact, there are only eight points of her own career that she can point to as particularly glitzy, including winning The Google Award for Women in Digital in 2014 and being awarded an MBE for services to small businesses and enterprise.
"You are basically a bricklayer, that is what you do," she explained. "All the time, you have to roll up your sleeves and just do what needs doing, no matter the job... To build anything is one of the most treacherous rides ever."
Entrepreneurs are basically bricklayers. You have to roll up your sleeves.
An aspect of Holly's journey from town hall craft fairs to bespoke gifting stardom which particularly resonated with the room was the influence of her father; a chartered accountant and former CFO of General Electric. He instilled in her the importance of everything adding up as it should and ensuring the quality of your offerings: to this day, Not on the High Street only accepts 18% of seller applications.
Now advising small businesses face-to-face through the new Holly & Co 'Work/Shop' (actually located on a high street), Holly ended on one central theme for entrepreneurs to take forward into their careers: "Creativity needs to be at the heart of everything."
Co-Founder of One Young World, a UK-based charity that gathers young leaders from all walks of life for an inspiring annual conference on working to solve global issues, Kate Robertson brought the Young Leaders summit to a close with a passionate speech on the important part CAs have to play in changing the world.
Originally from South Africa, Kate attributes the majority of problems which have a catastrophic impact on an international level to one element: corruption. It is, she believes, the main obstacle in the face of real, meaningful change and finds its way into every aspect of government and business where there is a lack of good leadership.
Young professionals have the power to change that.
"You guys are the ones that could change and fix everything," she encouraged the audience of CAs. "Every massive corruption scandal reported in the mainstream media has been accounted and audited by one of the Big Four and the firms you all work for.
You can make a difference where you are. Make what you do matter.
"Constantly I have young people coming up to me and saying 'I want to make a difference'. I know that people outside of your sector are going to say that no one who wants to make a difference is going to work in accounting. But the smart, global movers are the corporations, that's a fact.
"My plea to you would be to not leave your profession. Don't leave. Stay. You can make a difference where you are. Make what you do matter."
Her final message was clear: “Remember who you are. You're the future, you're the tomorrow, you're the talent.”